Tuesday, 5 February 2008

An edited, annotated, amended and expanded practice paper, OR 'the best state of the examination'.

TWO days
Answer TWO questions
Answers in range of 1,000-2,000 words and in no circumstances exceed 2,000 words

Candidates are advised not to use substantially the same material in different answers

Candidates should answer each question in light of two or more historical contexts.


1. Do you agree that some utopias give precedence to the perfection of the individual and others to the perfection of society?
2. What has utopian thought contributed to western society’s understanding of the nature and purpose of ONE of the following: the family, education, the nation state.
3. What is the historical and/or philosophical significance of the different systems of property proposed or adopted by different utopias.*
4. Define the relationship between eutopias and dystopias.
5. Discuss the importance of EITHER humour OR fear in utopian writing.
6. Do people need laws to make them good? Discuss in relation to your study of utopias and utopianism.
7. Do all utopian experimental communities alternate between a vision of the perfect city and a vision of the perfect Eden?
8. Mapping Utopia: discuss the philosophical and/or historical significance of the location of different utopias in time and space.*
9. Utopianism is often associated with big historical developments. Discuss the extent to which you would see ONE of the following as being either a cause or a consequence of a tradition of utopian thought: European global imperialism, universal free education, liberal democracy, totalinarianism, revolutions, the information age, secularism.**
10. What is the best methodology for comparative history to adopt? Discuss in relation to the study of utopias and utopianism.
11. "Every utopia takes as its starting point criticism and even rejection of contemporary ways and institutions”. (Meier) Do you agree?
12. Discuss the relationship between utopian writing and utopian intentional communities (real or virtual).
12.5 Is all utopian fiction a form of science fiction?***

For some discussion of examination philosophy see here.

* This rubric 'historical and/or philosophical' will not appear in the final exam. It is here to deal with our recent discussions about what kinds of answers would be acceptable.

** This question is a way of glossing the question about utopias and modernity. All these historical developments are associated with modernity (whether you identify that as a specific chronological period, or as a way of understanding a human-centred world, as we discussed in week one).

***Clearly we need a question that deals with the treatment of science in Utopias, but there will only be 12 questions on the final paper.

No comments: